Gardaí now to be randomly tested for alcohol and illegal drugs
In the wake of scandals involving An Garda Siochána and its organisational structure in recent times, rank and file Gardaí are set to be randomly tested themselves for alcohol and illegal drugs.
The news comes after the revelation that almost one million breath tests were falsified by members of the Gardaí all across Ireland.
Testing for drugs and alcohol is common among other police forces around the world mainly due to the possible risk posed to the public if officers are driving patrol cars or carrying loaded weapons while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
These measures are being introduced as part of the Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan's reform plan for An Garda Siochána. When implemented, it will involve random testing of Garda members. As such there will be a consultation process ongoing involving the Garda associations.
Jim O'Callaghan who is the Fianna Fail justice spokesman has asked the Policing Authority to raise a number of issues related to the falsified breath tests with the commissioner.
Questions must be answered, like why the Gardai only revealed the huge discrepancy two weeks ago and why it took eight months to notify the almost 15,000 people who were wrongly convicted of traffic offences.
Despite the lack of confidence across the board in the Commissioner’s ability to continue as the head of An Garda Siochána, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the Government still has confidence in her, despite the fact her position is considered untenable by all of the opposition parties.
There are even calls for the entire Garda organisational structure to be disbanded and replaced with an independent police body or some other structure in the wake of the latest scandal.
TD Brid Smith said:
“We have to have a serious discussion about that. One of the ideas is to appoint an independent outside body to run the police force.
“I find that idea quite attractive at the moment. When you look inside the members of the Garda Siochana - who knows whom, who’s related to whom and who’s been part of the establishment in the past - it leaves a lot of questions to be answered.”
“So some kind of outside body, accountable to the Dail, that the people can have faith in would need to step in. A police authority would need to take over."